Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hernandez v. Bridgestone Ams. Tire Operations, LLC

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

May 13, 2016

Lucas Hernandez, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC, Defendant - Appellant

         Submitted February 10, 2016.

          Appeals from United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa - Des Moines.

         For Lucas Hernandez, Plaintiff - Appellant (15-2042): Paige Fiedler, Whitney Judkins, Brooke Timmer, Fiedler & Timmer, Johnston, IA.

         For Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC, Defendant - Appellee (15-2042): Matthew Sean Brick, Brick & Gentry, West Des Moines, IA; Erin M. Clanton, Brick & Gentry, West Des Moines, IA; Robert W. Vyverberg Jr., Holland & Knight, Chicago, IL.

         For Lucas Hernandez, Plaintiff - Appellant (15-2428): Paige Fiedler, Whitney Judkins, Brooke Timmer, Fiedler & Timmer, Johnston, IA.

         For Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC, Defendant - Appellee (15-2428): Matthew Sean Brick, Brick & Gentry, West Des Moines, IA; Erin M. Clanton, Brick & Gentry, West Des Moines, IA; Jennifer Froehlich, Holland & Knight, Chicago, IL; Robert W. Vyverberg Jr., Holland & Knight, Chicago, IL; Christopher W. Carmichael, Holland & Knight, Chicago, IL.

         Before SHEPHERD, BEAM, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

         BEAM, Circuit Judge.

         Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC (BATO) appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Lucas Hernandez on his Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) interference claim. The district court held that absences for overtime shifts should not have been deducted from Hernandez's FMLA entitlement because the overtime shifts were voluntary and thus, not included in his FMLA allotment. Hernandez cross-appeals the district court's ruling on attorneys' fees and expenses. In response to Hernandez's motion seeking $113,586 in attorneys' fees and expenses, the district court reduced the award to $76,318. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         BATO designs, manufactures, and sells tires for a wide variety of applications in a number of North American manufacturing facilities. BATO hired Hernandez in 2003 as an hourly production worker. In 2004, Hernandez became a tire builder; he held this position until he was terminated in August 2012. BATO has an attendance program for all hourly employees that was negotiated with the Union and incorporated into the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). When an employee fails to report for a shift, regular or overtime, it is considered an " incident of absence." When an employee is unable to work, he or she must notify plant security, and the guard then records the employee's reported reason for the absence on a call-off log. BATO's attendance program follows a progressive discipline program. After five incidents of absence in a nine-month period, the employee is required to attend counseling. If an additional incident of absence occurs after counseling and within nine months of the previous incident, the employee is issued a written warning (Step 1). If an additional incident of absence occurs after the written warning and within nine months of the previous incident, the employee receives a written reprimand (Step 2). If an additional incident of absence occurs after the written reprimand and within nine months of the previous incident, the employee receives a final written warning (Step 3). If an additional incident of absence occurs after the final written warning and within nine months of the previous incident, the employee is terminated (Step 4). At each step of the discipline process the employee and Union may provide documents or information to explain the absence. An absence will be excused for approved FMLA leave, accident and sickness leave, jury duty, and bereavement.

         Work schedules for hourly production employees are published in October and do not change throughout the year. Employees have the same schedule from November 1 through October 31 of the following year. Because BATO requires continuous manufacturing operations, overtime shifts are often necessary. Overtime is based on the plant's staffing and production needs, and the overtime selection process is controlled by the CBA. When overtime is needed, BATO posts an overtime sign-up sheet in the department. Tire builders are then allowed to indicate their interest and availability on the overtime sheet. BATO selects employees from the list based on seniority and the number of overtime hours an employee has worked in that year. The list of selected tire builders is then posted in the department. Employees are required to check the list and if selected, are required to be present and work the twelve-hour shift unless allowed to leave early due to diminished production. If an employee fails to report for an overtime shift, he is subject to discipline under the attendance program unless the absence is excused. If the employee misses for an FMLA-qualifying reason, the twelve-hour overtime shift is deducted from the employee's FMLA entitlement.

         During orientation, all employees are notified of their rights under the FMLA. Human Resources makes all decisions regarding FMLA leave. When an employee needs FMLA leave, he fills out a form to request leave and is notified of his rights under the FMLA. In July 2010, Hernandez requested and was approved for intermittent FMLA leave to care for his son who suffers from asthma. In November 2011, he requested additional intermittent FMLA leave. Human Resources based Hernandez's FMLA leave on his fixed work schedule as a tire builder. He was scheduled to work twelve-hour shifts and forty-two-hour workweeks.[1] A forty-two-hour workweek gave Hernandez 504 hours of FMLA leave beginning in November 2011.

         Between October 31, 2011, and July 15, 2012, Hernandez missed work fifty-four times. Six of those absences were overtime shifts. Forty-two of the missed days were excused under the attendance program as FMLA leave or accident and sickness leave. Six absences were unexcused, which resulted in counseling under BATO's attendance program. He had another non-FMLA, unexcused absence on January 13, 2012, for which he progressed to Step 1 of BATO's attendance program and received a written warning. Hernandez exhausted his 504 hours of FMLA leave on July 10, 2012. He then missed two overtime shifts on July 11, 2012, and July 12, 2012, for FMLA-qualifying reasons. However, because Hernandez had exhausted all of his FMLA leave on July 10, 2012, the July 11 and July 12 absences counted as unexcused absences under the attendance program. Hernandez contacted the Human Resources Manager, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.